Buckwheat whisky is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made entirely or principally from buckwheat. It is produced in the Brittany region of France and in the United States. Soba shōchū is a similar but weaker beverage produced in Japan. In some cases, liquor is also produced from buckwheat honey.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds. Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is instead related to sorrel and rhubarb. It is a type of pseudocereal, which is a non-grass used in much the same way as a true cereal. Over a million acres of buckwheat were harvested in the United States in 1918, but its cultivation declined sharply in the 20th century with the adoption of nitrogen fertilizer, which increased the productivity of other crop staples. Buckwheat is gluten-free, which makes pure buckwheat whisky an alternative for those who experience gluten-based allergic responses to other whiskies.
The production of buckwheat whisky is comparable to the production of malt whisky, except that all or most of the barley is replaced with buckwheat. Buckwheat malt is produced by soaking the grains in water to allow them to germinate. Once the shoots appear, the buckwheat is dried, a process that causes enzymes in the buckwheat to convert the starch into fermentable sugars. The malt is ground in a mill and mixed with hot water to produce a sugary liquid. Yeast is added to cause fermentation of the sugars into alcohol, which is then distilled at least once to produce a colorless "heart" spirit. The heart is then put into oak casks to mature.
Distillerie des Menhirs
Distillerie des Menhirs is a family-owned business located in the village of Plomelin in Brittany, France. In 1998, the Le Lay family started producing the world's first pure buckwheat whisky, named Eddu Silver. "Eddu" means "buckwheat" in the local Breton language. Eddu Silver is produced from a double distillation process in a pot heated by a direct flame and is aged in French oak casks. It is described as having floral scents of rose and heather, fruity touches of honey and marmalade, and spicy notes of nutmeg. Distillerie des Menhirs now produces a range of buckwheat whiskies, including Eddu Gold and Eddu Grey Rock.
Catskill Distilling Company
Catskill Distilling Company of Bethel, New York, is owned by distiller Monte Sachs, who uses water from the nearby Catskill Mountains to make its whisky. The company's buckwheat whisky is produced with 80% buckwheat.
Pinchgut Hollow Distillery
Heston Farm's Pinchgut Hollow Distillery is located in the town of Fairmont, West Virginia. The distillery has a heritage that dates back to Prohibition and uses traditional recipes that have been handed down for generations.
Corsair Artisan Distillery was licensed in 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee, in the former home of Yazoo Brewery. The facility has a 240-gallon classic pot still that dates back to circa 1920. Its buckwheat whisky is called Buck Yeah.
- Farmers' Bulletin. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1921.
- "Distillerie des Menhirs – The Buckwheat". www.distillerie.bzh. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "Buckwheat Whisky – The Whiskyphiles". thewhiskyphiles.com. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "Artisan Spirits from New York State Farm Distillery Catskill Distilling Company". catskilldistillingcompany.com. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- Pinchgut Hollow Distillery Archived 2015-07-22 at the Wayback Machine
- "BUCK YEAH". Corsair Distillery. Retrieved 2018-09-16.